Thursday, April 29, 2010

The hazards of autocomplete

Headline -- Arab states exert efforts in improving the Arab Marmite transport.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Flock Rochdale



Poor Gordon Brown. 2 minutes 30 seconds in, Gillian Duffy says, in the context of claims for unemployment benefit --

You can't say anything about these immigrants because they'll say you're ... all these eastern Europeans coming here, where are they flocking from?

Presumably Gordon mis-heard "flocking", not used to the local accent, and disaster ensued.

Aside from the specific implications for Brown, one message from the incident is that immigration is the sleeper issue in the campaign. The people who'd like to talk about it are nervous about doing so. The moment she raised it, Brown's expectations for the next words seem to have influenced what he heard, or mis-heard.

UPDATE: Memories. There seems be a curse of Rochdale, as it is a seat Labour lost in 2004 "despite" the use of Rovian tactics. Now they've switched to an anti-core vote strategy!

Technical note: you might need to place your cursor over the screen to activate the volume control

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

There's this thing called Photoshop


Shannen Coffen at National Review got suckered by the "Obama Boat Launch Fail" version, where someone added an implausibly large Obama sticker to the back window.

Photo in wide circulation, one version here

Monday, April 26, 2010

There must be an "outrage" here somewhere

Bloomberg News -- [Prince] Alwaleed also said today he may start a regional news channel to compete with the Al-Arabiya and Al-Jazeera satellite channels. The channel “is something I will be doing personally” because it “needs a lot of investments up front,” he said. The channel wouldn’t be produced through Kingdom Holding Co. or Rotana, Alwaleed said.

The news channel would borrow from the business model used at Murdoch’s Fox and Sky News channels while broadcasting different content in the Middle East, Alwaleed said. Saudi Arabia is a Sunni Muslim-majority nation with strict media laws and no diplomatic relations with Israel.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Star and Hand doesn't sound as good


What's this, you ask: have Irish nationalists come up with a witty riposte to those Ulster-Israel flags that are all the rage among a select few?

Sadly, No. It's the new Irish-Jewish fusion restaurant in Washington DC. Reviews from the cool bloggers are negative.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Bottle full of Bub

National Review's Andy McCarthy, leading off the latest round in the debate about whether conservatives are only talking to each other --

I was happily out of pocket yesterday, traveling to beautiful Santa Barbara for a weekend retreat organized by David Horowitz's Freedom Center — and a panel this morning with John Yoo and my fellow Cornerite Marc Thiessen.

That would be Bush torture memo drafter John Yoo and Bush speechwriter and man who argues that Catholic leaders have to support torture, Marc Thiessen. All being hosted by general purpose angry neocon, David Horowitz.

Terror Chic


Time's Swampland notes an interesting bit of messaging from the Republican Governors' Association (via TPM). The Guy Fawkes refrain Remember November is interspersed with images of the US Capitol and Barack Obama as the ruler, doom-laden music and quick-cut editing and even a voting check mark that looks like a V as in V for Vendetta, geddit?

There is also the above image: a graphic and then the words "Eleven Two", i.e. November 2nd, election day.

Isn't there some other date of great significance in recent American history that also has 11 in it? One that could be represented as two towers up straight and then on their side? Incidentally, it wasn't so long after that one that it was being referred to as an Epiphany so this soil was already fertile.

Anyway, if you're going to do serious dog-whistle messaging in a video, numbers are great fun. 11:2 in Luke from the version of the bible named for the dude Guy Fawkes was trying to blow up --

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.

UPDATE: The George Bush memoir Decision Points is to be released on November 9th. 11-9. Geddit?

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sentences you won't hear in American politics

"I am not a man of faith" --

Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader, in the 2nd election debate this evening [just after the 37 minute mark].

A dubious honour

National Review's Denis Boyles is appropriately puzzled --

So here are two headlines from the capitals of the EU's English-speaking ghetto:

Irish Times: Irish binge drinking 'highest in EU'

Daily Telegraph: Britain is the 'binge-drinking capital of Europe'

Only one can be right, and national pride's at stake. Obviously, what these small island nations need is a winner-take-all bar fight — as long as we don't get stuck with the tab.


And indeed it seems that the respective hacks, probably with the help of country-specific press releases put out by Eurobarometer, fished out the most eye-catching presentation of the data. Resolution requires , er, research, so proceed to page 24 of the actual report to see that: Irish drinkers lead the EU in the proportion of those drinking that have 3-4 drinks (35%) or 5-6 drinks (19%). As 5 or more drinks as the threshold for binge drinking, the Irish Times hails our success in binge drinking.

But wait. Binge drinking is 5 or more drinks. It's true we lead Europe in the category of very precise binge drinking i.e. 5 or 6. But you have to look at all consumption over 5 drinks. For Ireland there's another 5% who have 7-9, and 2% who have 10 or more. Total percentage of bingers: 19+5+2=26%.

For the UK: 12% have 5-6, and 6% have 7-9, 6% have 10 or more. So 12+6+6=24% are binge drinkers.

Summary: Ireland wins the overall binge drinking category, but the Irish Times presented the data incorrectly, forgetting to look at cumulative shares over 5 drinks. But the UK dominates the extreme categories: 12% of drinkers have at least 7 drinks or more in a sitting. So the Telegraph uses the non-standard definition of binge drinking, but at least on that basis comes to the correct conclusion.

Neither newspaper explores the additional question of where all this binge drinking takes place, or, when it takes place abroad, which nationality is more deluded about the extent to which their hosts find it amusing.

Incidentally, one has to go the business pages to find a category in which Ireland indisputably heads a European table. That would be for the 2009 budget deficit in the Eurozone, which may come as news to the Greece-obsessed bond traders who seem to lap up Irish Department of Finance press releases in a manner that would shame even the alcohol hacks for the Irish Times and the Daily Telegraph.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

American man gonna mess your mind

Jonah Goldberg, in a musing about Israel's Independence Day --

George Orwell got at this tendency [thinking the present will persist] from a different angle in his brilliant 1946 essay, “Second Thoughts on James Burnham.”

Now keep in mind that the key thesis of Jonah Goldberg's Liberal Fascism is that Fascism is a left-wing phenomenon.

A quote from that brilliant Orwell essay --

Now, the attitude that Burnham adopts, of classifying Communism and Fascism as much the same thing, and at the same time accepting both of them — or, at any rate, not assuming that either must be violently struggled against — is essentially an American attitude, and would be almost impossible for an Englishman or any other western European. ... An American does not have to make the same choice. Whatever happens, the United States will survive as a great power, and from the American point of view it does not make much difference whether Europe is dominated by Russia or by Germany. Most Americans who think of the matter at all would prefer to see the world divided between two or three monster states which had reached their natural boundaries and could bargain with one another on economic issues without being troubled by ideological differences. Such a world-picture fits in with the American tendency to admire size for its own sake and to feel that success constitutes justification, and it fits in with the all-prevailing anti-British sentiment ... It is, therefore, not surprising that Burnham's world-view should often be noticeably close to that of the American imperialists on the one side, or to that of the isolationists on the other. It is a ‘tough’ or ‘realistic’ worldview which fits in with the American form of wish-thinking. The almost open admiration for Nazi methods which Burnham shows in the earlier of his two books, and which would seem shocking to almost any English reader, depends ultimately on the fact that the Atlantic is wider than the Channel.

One final thing to keep in mind: Burnham was a key figure in modern American conservatism, affectations of Edmund Burke as the sole influence notwithstanding.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

They flew to Shannon

If one compares the RTE and BBC rolling news updates on the volcano crisis, it seems that British Airways put a dozen long-haul flights into the air to Heathrow, unsure if they could actually land there, and are still maintaining that the plan is to land them a closed Heathrow airport with a backup plan to land them all at Shannon. No word yet on whether a fleet of speedboats is coming to rescue the stranded passengers.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Emir of Distraction

When the Iraq war was going off the rails in the summer of 2007, the US military came up with a brilliant solution to an embarrassing and frustrating problem: the mutiple instances of reported capture or death of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, the apparent leader of the potent Sunni terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq. The solution: they declared that Abu Omar al-Baghdadi was a fictional character. A fairly convoluted structure was put forward in which foreigners, anxious to hide the foreign nature of their group, had created an Iraqi identity to front for the group.

But the problem didn't go away. Last April, in the wake of two large bomb attacks, and needing to show progress in what was now their own war on terror, the Iraqi government claimed to have captured the previous fictional character. But then not much more was heard from him.

Move forward now to the aftermath of the Iraqi election, seemingly lost fair and square by Bush favourite PM Nouri al-Maliki to Sunni rival Iyad Allawi (and with the Gulf states pointedly keeping al-Maliki out of the procession of Iraqi visitors to the Gulf), the need to show progress on security, a big issue in the election, and direct attention to Sunni terrorism, and who should pop out of the hat but ....

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki announced the killings of Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri at a news conference in Baghdad and showed reporters photographs of their bloody corpses. The deaths were later confirmed by U.S. military officials in a statement.

The U.S. military said they were killed in a nighttime raid on their safe house Sunday near Tikrit, the hometown of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. An American helicopter crashed during the assault, killing one U.S. soldier, the military said.

U.S. forces commander Gen. Raymond Odierno praised the operation.


Predictably, Max Boot at Commentary, who is supposed to know Iraq well, hailed it as "good news from Iraq" -- that thing that the liberal media was not reporting in 2007.

There isn't yet any word on how his latest death is to be reconciled with his previous ones or his spells in custody. His co-deceased, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, also has a history. The Egyptian surname made him a more obvious candidate as the foreign puppet master of the terrorist group, but his picture (the one that is circulating with today's story) was used by The Times (UK) as that of an al-Qaeda operative killed in Pakistan. That might just be the perils of letting the Google do your research, but it may also indicate that considerable confusion surrounds his identity as well.

In a moment of candour, the US military has recently said that it is not sure who comprises the remaining terrorist insurgency in Iraq. This appears to be true in a very literal sense.

UPDATE: You can't keep a bad man down. With Abu Omar al-Baghdadi securely in the grave, Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud RIP (January 2010) is alive and well as of May.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Mother Nature is a mad scientist



The Eyjafjallajokul volcano at night during a storm.

UPDATE: We have thoughts on the volcano-airline crisis over at A Fistful of Euros.

FINAL UPDATE: We refer above to a "storm". Incorrect. The lightning is caused by the volcano.

Photo: REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Genius


It's way too annoying to embed soccer highlight video so if you are so interested, keep an eye out for highlights of (Douglas) Maicon's truly fabulous goal for Inter Milan v Juventus from Friday night.

Photo: Sky Italia

Friday, April 16, 2010

Before Private Eye gets there

Millions of British TV viewers were astonished last night when a man in a suit was articulate. The man, who was wearing a slightly less dark suit than two other men who appeared with him, was able to string sentences together, look at a TV camera, and remember the names of other people. While the other men in darker suits were similarly capable, ash-distracted viewers had forgotten that there would three men in suits, not two (cont'd p94)

Celtic Tiger: Resurrection


If only for one day, Ireland gets a reminder of the smug days. They are getting flights, to the west, out.

UPDATE: Like the Celtic Tiger, it didn't last. Now only southern Europe is getting flights out.

AP Photo/Niall Carson-pa

Manias, Panics, and Suckers

The SEC charges against Goldman Sachs are fascinating reading. On the one hand, the Vampire Squid is not likely to be a recipient of much sympathy. But what comes out from the SEC's description is the extent to which people inside Goldman Sachs (and Paulson & Co.) knew that the real estate finance roof was about to cave in -- but couldn't believe that there were so many people who didn't see it --

For example, portions of an email in French and English sent by Tourre [a VP at Goldman Sachs] to a friend on January 23, 2007 stated, in English translation where applicable: “More and more leverage in the system, The whole building is about to collapse anytime now…Only potential survivor, the fabulous Fab[rice Tourre]…standing in the middle of all these complex, highly leveraged, exotic trades he created without necessarily understanding all of the implications of those monstruosities [sic]!!!” Similarly, an email on February 11, 2007 to Tourre from the head of the GS&Co structured product correlation trading desk stated in part, “the cdo biz is dead we don’t have a lot of time left.”

And note: that's early 2007. So this business had gone sour in 2006. Incidentally, the SEC complaint singles out 2 banks caught on the wrong side of the disputed transaction: German bank IKB, and Dutch bank ABN Amro, which was soon to feature in the worst takeover in history.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Meet the new Spengler

At the blog of Commentary Magazine, Contentions, John Podhoretz is shocked that First Things blogger David Goldman would say some bizarre things about the Obama family. Such as --

Obama is the loyal son of a left-wing anthropologist mother who sought to expiate her white guilt by going to bed with Muslim Third World men. He is a Third World anthropologist studying us, learning our culture and our customs the better to neutralize what he considers to be a malignant American influence in world affairs.

Says JPod --

Spewing repellent nonsense about Obama’s mother and spinning bizarre notions about his innate foreignness — when he is in fact the possessor of one of the great and enduring American stories, and is in his own person a demonstration of precisely the kind of American exceptionalism that Obama so pointedly pooh-poohs — can be used to discredit his opposition. That is why I find it necessary to take such public exception to Goldman’s unacceptable musings.

Those are fine words from JPod, but the only news is that it's news to him that David Goldman says this stuff. As JPod explains, David Goldman worked under the pseudonym Spengler for a few years before going back under his own name at First Things (which is a conservative Catholic journal). Now as pseudonyms are wont to do, his writings prompted all sorts of excited speculation about who the person behind the pseudonym is (e.g. P O'Neill does not actually have a beard). Consider for instance National Review's Lisa Schiffren reacting to Spengler column in what was then his main gig at the Asia Times --

Spengler, the brilliant columnist for the Asia Times, is reputed to be an Australian gentleman of a certain age, with a Ph.D in Anthropology at Columbia University obtained when that was still a first-rate program. He brings a rare level of cultural insight and depth to the discussion, the sort which is so often lacking on the American Right, dominated as it is by economists and those who eschew psychology.

That Australian gentleman anthropologist who brought a worldly perspective to the economist-dominated Right turned out to be ... an economist from New York with a past stint in Lyndon LaRouche's organization. And what column drew such praise from Schiffren? --

Obama profiles Americans the way anthropologists interact with primitive peoples. He holds his own view in reserve and emphatically draws out the feelings of others; that is how friends and colleagues describe his modus operandi since his days at the Harvard Law Review, through his years as a community activist in Chicago, and in national politics. Anthropologists, though, proceed from resentment against the devouring culture of America and sympathy with the endangered cultures of the primitive world. Obama inverts the anthropological model: he applies the tools of cultural manipulation out of resentment against America. The probable next president of the United States is a mother's revenge against the America she despised.

The column is in fact just a longer drawn out version of the same thesis that JPod finds so repellent, with Michelle Obama and her supposed obsession from her Princeton days with "blackness" also in the psycho-anthropological stew. Indeed, as Goldman himself says in the entry that we know JPod read, "I’ve been screaming about this for more than two years". Was JPod the only one on the right who didn't get an e-mail with a link to the earlier column?

UPDATE: Former Bush operative Peter Wehner endorses JPod but says that when he wrote his own call for "civility" last week --

I received a note from a very intelligent friend scolding me, saying, "American democracy is not a library, and we don’t need shushing. The left will pull it’s Reichstag Fire maneuvers soon enough,"

So he has a very intelligent friend who thinks that (1) Barack Obama is Hitler and (2) doesn't know his apostrophes.

FINAL UPDATE: The verdict is in. Joseph Bottum (Goldman's editor), Michael Ledeen, and Jonah Goldberg weigh the merits of the case and don't see that much in Goldman's post to get upset about. Which is an interesting insight into what musings about Barack Obama is deemed within the bounds of respectability.

One interesting theory not quite fleshed out in Bottum's response is that Goldman came onto the radar screen at Commentary not over the above blog post but because he criticised General David Petraeus for linking the USA's problems in the Middle East to its perceived position in the Israel-Palestine conflict: Petraeus was of course making an obvious point but he is also a (perhaps fantasy) presidential contender in 2012 that the more partisan crowd at Commentary may not want out of the running just yet.

ONE MORE THING: Exactly one week before the original Spengler column appeared, Lisa Schiffren had speculated that the marriage of Obama's parents was rooted in Communist agitation and called for --

for some investigative journalism about the Obama family's background,

The meme was in wide circulation in early 2008.

Monday, April 12, 2010

US President in "meets dodgy leader" shock


Over at Contentions, Jennifer Rubin and Peter Wehner are angry that President Obama would have a meeting with the President of a dubious human rights case like Kazakhstan and say nice things about that leader.

Above, George Bush with Dick Cheney's favourite central Asian autocrat, President Nazarbayev, at the White House in 2006.

On the other hand, the Contentions items do direct attention to a bizarre statement at Sunday's White House conference call media briefing by Mike McFaul, National Security Council Senior Director for Russia and the Caucasus --

Q Hi, this is for Mike McFaul. When you were discussing the discussion between President Nazarbayev and President Obama about human rights and democracy, you seemed to be suggesting there was some equivalence between their issues of democracy and the United States’ issues, when you said that President Obama assured him that we, too, are working on our democracy. Is there equivalence between the problems that President Nazarbayev is confronting and the state of democracy in the United States?

MR. McFAUL: Absolutely not, Jonathan. To be clear, what the President was saying is that all democracies need to work to improve their democracies. And he’s taken, I think, rather historic steps to improve our own democracy since coming to office here in the United States. There was no equivalence meant whatsoever.


Huh?

Bush White House photo by Eric Draper

Friday, April 09, 2010

Beer Goggles

Advertisement for Heineken at bus stop in Washington DC ("There are no innocent bystanders"). A country fighting at least two wars and with a collateral damage controversy in the news.

Wrong Horse

Liz Cheney's latest broadside, echoing through the usual Angry Right outlets --

There is a saying in the Arab world: “It is more dangerous to be America’s friend than to be her enemy.”

Leave aside that she uses this expression in connection with Hamid Karzai, who recently threatened to join the Taliban and isn't Arab. Only an Arabic speaker can tell us for sure whether there is such a saying, but there's not much record of such an expression. Furthermore, the Google quickly determines that the expression entered American political discourse with ... Henry Kissinger --

"Nixon should be told that it is probably an objective of Clifford to depose Thieu (South Vietnamese president Nguyen Van Thieu) before Nixon is inaugurated. Word should be gotten to Nixon that if Thieu meets the same fate as Diem, the word will go out to the nations of the world that it may be dangerous to be America’s enemy, but to be America’s friend is fatal." [Source: Barry Popik]

And there's a Pat Buchanan article that concurs.

One hopes that Cheney is not comparing the UK, Israel, and Afghanistan (the supposed victims of the slaps) to South Vietnam. And at a time of war!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

A "reformation", if you will

Maureen Dowd has been using her recent New York Times columns to engage with the child abuse scandal engulfing the Catholic Church. The National Review's Kathryn Jean Lopez has not been happy with Dowd's columns (like the Archbishop of New York). Here's K-Lo today --

If the pope himself were possessed, if every priest and religious were evildoers, there would still be Christ and there would still be the fact — which, if you’re Catholic, you believe to be true, or so claiming to be Catholic suggests — that He died for your sins. If the pope were corrupt, I’d like to think I’d still have faith. It’s not the human leaders with free will who are at the heart of the faith — and the Church — but the Eucharist, literally.

There already is a religion for people who believe in the Eucharist but who don't want any of the tainted hierarchical baggage that comes with it. It's called Protestantism. But K-Lo is the one accusing Dowd of not understanding what Catholicism involves.

The Celtic Cutter

It was unclear when Ireland would again be deemed a safe topic for the Wall Street Journal opinion page. Not so many years ago, Ireland was the favourite: proof that low taxes and deregulation were the path the economic success. But with the apparent boom years now exposed the product of a bubble and procylical monetary and fiscal policy in a small open economy, it was a case of the less said, the better. Even the Baltics, the new kids on the block, weren't offering much cheer.

But Ireland is back, courtesy of Alex Pollock from the American Enterprise Institute --

But how about when governments spend much more than they take in, running huge and extended deficits? What should happen then? This is something Americans who work in private companies might consider while they file their tax returns over the next week.

Ireland shows the way.

Having had a long run of high growth and success, Ireland has now had a severe bust, the deflation of a housing bubble, and a financial crisis. Plus, its government is running big deficits. Sound familiar?


The specific policy recommendation: Irish style civil service pay cuts in the manner laid out in the December budget i.e. bigger marginal cuts for bigger salaries.

This looks like a very sensible plan for nonmilitary government employees. Ireland has already worked out the plan. All the U.S. has to do is implement it.

There are various odd things about this. First, if the "plan" simply consists of coming up with the idea of cutting civil service pay between 5 and 10 percent, "planning" must be more difficult than we thought. Second, whatever its merits, the Irish plan derives its fiscal punch from the number of people covered by the cuts: not just anonymous paper-pushers in central offices, but also teachers, healthcare workers, and the police. With those services in the US being mostly state, local, or private, a similar pay cut plan is only going to generate big savings with a massive increase in federal power ... which you'd think the American Enterprise Institute would be against.

Which brings us to the next point ... why is Ireland the right benchmark? Why not Lithuania, with its 20-30 percent public sector pay cuts? Maybe Ireland's 7.5 percent contraction versus Lithuania's 18.5 percent contraction in 2009 has something to do with it. But a direct association between pay cuts and recession would be way too awkward a message for the Journal.

Monday, April 05, 2010

The Arab Gulf

One of the messes that George Bush bequeathed to Barack Obama was overseeing an election-based transition of power in Iraq. It was never going to be easy, but the election is producing a "moment of clarification" as George Bush liked to say (usually as the latest foreign policy disaster was unfolding).

Here we see the presumptive victor in the election Iyad Allawi meeting the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. With Iran apparently busy with schemes to keep him out of power, it was inevitable that he would look for support in the non-Persian Gulf -- illustrating yet again that the idea of the magic word "democracy" that would make all regional interests in Iraq melt away was, and is a fantasy.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Some of my best friends made me do it

There is one similarity between the nature of the remarks made by Archbishop Rowan Williams about the Irish Catholic Church and those of Fr Raniero Cantalamessa, sermonising for the Pope, about the child abuse scandal --

Fr Cantalamessa said he had been inspired by a letter from a Jewish friend who had been upset by the "attacks" against the Pope.

He then read part of the letter, in which his friend said he was following "with indignation the violent and concentric attacks against the Church, the Pope and all the faithful of the whole world".

"The use of stereotypes and the passing from personal responsibility and guilt to a collective guilt remind me of the more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism," he quoted the letter as saying, as the Pope listened.


...

Dr Williams said: "I was speaking to an Irish friend recently who was saying that it's quite difficult in some parts of Ireland to go down the street wearing a clerical collar now.

"And an institution so deeply bound into the life of a society, suddenly becoming, suddenly losing all credibility - that's not just a problem for the Church, it is a problem for everybody in Ireland."


Thus, in both cases, the controversial remarks were set up as something that a friend had said to them, leading to their own observations. As reactions have shown, it's properly better to do some reflection on what the friend has said before making it one's own.

Anyway, of the two remarks, those from the Vatican are much more problematic -- perhaps the most preposterous example of the pursuit of victimhood of all time. Williams on the other hand has seen Papa Ratzi establish a special purpose vehicle to peel off some of his congregation, and so pointing out some disorder in the other house was understandable.

Happy Easter!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Bad medicine

Charles Krauthammer today in the Washington Post --

Well, said David Manning, a former British ambassador to the United States, to a House of Commons committee reporting on that very relationship: "[Obama] is an American who grew up in Hawaii, whose foreign experience was of Indonesia and who had a Kenyan father. The sentimental reflexes, if you like, are not there."

I'm not personally inclined to neuropsychiatric diagnoses, but Manning's guess is as good as anyone's.


Charles Krauthammer's past diagnoses --

During 2004 election season: This [Democratic contempt for Dubya] is all quite unhinged. Good God. What if Bush is reelected? If they lose to him again, Democrats will need more than just consolation. They'll need therapy.

Howard Dean: When he avers, however, that "the most interesting" theory as to why the president is "suppressing" the Sept. 11 report is that Bush knew about Sept. 11 in advance, it's time to check on thorazine supplies.

Al Gore: -"Well, it looks as if Al Gore has gone off his lithium again." (Fox News Special Report, 5/26/04)

... I'm a psychiatrist. I don't usually practice on camera. But this is the edge of looniness, this idea that there's a vast conspiracy, it sits in a building, it emanates, it has these tentacles, is really at the edge. He [Al Gore] could use a little help.

In fact, it's Krauthammer's bizarre description of Obama's foreign policy changes as "slapping" allies that merits a little time on the couch.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Another straight talk express

National Review's Jay Nordlinger one year ago --

What is it about the Czech Republic and straight talk? The country’s president, Václav Klaus, is pretty much the number-one straight-talker in the world (for example, on global warming, and on the financial crisis now engulfing us). But the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek, isn’t bad either. Here is what he recently told the European Parliament:

“The U.S. is repeating mistakes from the 1930s, such as wide-ranging stimuluses, protectionist tendencies and appeals, the Buy American campaign, and so on. All these steps, their combination and their permanency, are the road to hell.”


This quote was indeed gleefully recycled among the American right.

News just in from the Czech Republic --

Mirek Topolanek had been under strong pressure from within his Civic Democratic Party to step down following the comments to the editorial staff of the gay magazine Lui. He announced last week that he would not lead his party's campaign in a May 28-29 election or run as a candidate.

Topolanek's were made came during an informal conversation with editorial staff of the magazine and were not meant for publication. A video of the meeting was leaked to other media, however.

He said that Transport Minister Gustav Slamecka is a homosexual who "gives in" when he faces a serious problem." About Prime Minister Jan Fischer, he said, "he's simply a Jew; he's not gay and he gives in even sooner." Fischer is Jewish. Slamecka has not publicly commented on his sexual orientation.

Topolanek also accused the Roman Catholic church of "brainwashing" believers.